RHS Herbarium

Our Herbarium is the largest in the UK dedicated to ornamental plants and contains more than 92,000 specimens, now available online

What is a herbarium?

Most specimens in a herbarium are pressed, dried plants. These specimens are mounted on sheets of card and stored in flat folders in banks of cupboards following a logical sequence for easy referral.

Other specimens may be dried large fruiting bodies, pieces of wood or bark, seeds or material stored in spirit to preserve more delicate three-dimensional structures.

Why are herbaria important?

Herbaria are used by botanists for the identification and classification of plants. As the plant is usually preserved when flowering or fruiting, botanists can examine their most important features. They also provide a historical record of what was growing in a particular place at a particular time.

Many historic collections in herbaria now record plants no longer living in the location they were collected from. For cultivated plants, these records will give a latest date for when a particular plant was first grown.

Send in a herbarium sample

The RHS Herbarium welcomes material of plants in cultivation that are new or unusual.

If sending material to the herbarium, a few simple rules will help to keep it in the best condition for pressing.

Send a sample 

Prepare your own herbarium samples using these guidelines to help create long-lasting herbarium specimens.

How to press 

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.